Insurance

Going round in circles….

Traffic
There has been a great deal of discussion in the media lately regarding dangerous traffic intersections in YYC. There are a number of reasons why some intersections are more problematic than others. Increased traffic demands exceeding designed capacity, aging infrastructure, confined space preventing larger intersections, topography, poor drainage, glare from sunlight, etc to name a few.

Traffic circles, or “roundabouts” as our friends across the pond like to call them, are becoming increasingly more common here in Calgary. For a lot of us when we think of traffic circles we think of Clark W Griswold stuck driving around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in London for hours… “ Look kids!  Big Ben, Parliament!”

While traffic circles may seem daunting to some, the truth is traffic circles are a safer, and more efficient way of moving traffic. A recent study showed that traffic circles provide the following benefits:

  • A 37% reduction in overall collisions
  • A 75% reduction in injury collisions
  • A 90% reduction in fatality collisions
  • A 40% reduction in pedestrian collisions

There are some key reasons for these results.

  • Lower travel speeds. Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering the traffic circle. Speeds in the circle are typically 15-30km/h so when a collision does occur it’s typically minor and causes fewer injuries due to lower speeds.
  • No light to beat. Traffic circles are designed to promote a continuous flow of traffic. Because of this flow it eliminates drivers racing to catch the green, or panic braking on yellows and reds.
  • One way travel – roads entering the circle are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel around the circle. The curved roads eliminate the possibility of T-bone and head on collisions.
  • Traffic circles are more effective during power outages as there is no dependence on traffic lights.

From an insurance perspective traffic circles are a great alternative to signal and sign controlled intersections. There are fewer accidents, and those that do occur have a much lower likelihood of injury.  Reducing the frequency and severity of auto insurance claims helps to keep insurance premiums low ensuring everyone can access the coverage they need.

Let’s just hope we don’t wind up with traffic circles like England’s 7 circle magic roundabout in Swindon.

Happy travels!

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accident, adjuster, all perils, auto, automobile, car, claim, collision, comprehensive, coverage, crash, deductible, home, Insurance, payment, protection, vehicle

Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

RC vs ACVYou’ve probably heard the terms “replacement cost” and “actual cash value” at some point when discussing your insurance with your agent. Chances are you probably heard a bunch of terms while reviewing your coverage and wondered what does it all mean?   For today we are going to focus on these terms and how they relate to your coverage.

Actual Cash Value or “ACV” as it’s known in the industry is exactly what it sounds like… what the item is worth right now.  Insurers look at the initial cost of the item and then subtract depreciation for the number of years you had the item.  The depreciation applied can vary depending on the quality of the item, its current condition, age,  and what the life expectancy of the item is.

Replacement Cost means the amount of money it would take to replace damaged item with a new one of comparable material and quality used for the same purpose.  When shopping for insurance this is the coverage you ideally want to look for.  This coverage will get you closest to the living situation you had prior to the covered loss occurring.

When you suffer a claim the adjuster is going to request that you provide them with a full list of details including:

  • Description of the item(s) with make and model where applicable
  • Purchase date
  • Purchase price
  • Current replacement value
  • Receipt if available
  • Photos if available

Realistically you probably don’t keep the receipt for every item you have in your home. Even if you do there is a chance those receipts may have been lost in the claim.   So what can you do?  Well, keeping a photo log of the rooms in your home is a good start.  It will help the adjuster understand what items were in your home, and it also will help jog your memory as well.  Mike from our office has been through a fire and he can vouch for how hard it is to remember everything you had after a total loss.   Our smartphone app offers our clients the ability to store these photos in our office as part of their file.  That way the photos won’t also be lost in the claim and will help to expedite the claims process.

If your settlement is on Replacement Cost basis you can expect to receive two cheques from the insurance company.   The first cheque will be for the Actual Cash Value of the items that were damaged.  After you provide your adjuster with receipts for the replacement items you will be issued a second cheque for the difference between the Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost.  This ensures you get Replacement Cost value for the items you do replace and the Actual Cash Value for the items you choose not to replace.

Some items just can’t be replaced. If the item is deemed obsolete or by inherent nature cannot be replaced, you may only be offered an Actual Cash Value settlement.   If you own items that are unique, or one of a kind, we encourage you to reach out to your agent to discuss if there are any additional coverage options available to you for these items. Some of these items may be insurable on a special floater where the items value is agreed on in advance of a loss occurring.

Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost coverage are also used on  auto insurance policies. Here is an example of how it works on an automobile policy:

12 months after purchasing a brand new car for $40,000 you get in an accident. The damage is beyond repair and the vehicle is written off.

With Replacement Cost Coverage: Some insurers offer optional replacement cost coverage or a waiver of depreciation on brand new cars. With one of these endorsements on your policy you’d be able to replace your vehicle with a new version of the same model (or comparable one) or you could receive a cheque for the amount you originally paid for it.

With Actual Cash Value Coverage: Without one of these endorsements the settlement would be based on actual cash value. The insurer would look at what the market value of a vehicle of like kind and quality, in the same condition as yours was immediately prior to the loss occurring.   In a case like this, your settlement would likely be around $30,000 instead of your original purchase price of $40,000.

So there you have it. If you still have questions, or are concerned about your own policy coverages, please contact us.

 

accident, auto, automobile, car, claim, collision, comprehensive, coverage, crash, deductible, Insurance, payment, protection, vehicle

Popular Insurance Misconceptions

let us knowMisconceptionsAfter nearly 55 years of service we’ve heard just about everything. What we’ve learned is that there are a lot of misconceptions about the insurance industry.   Here’s just a few of them:

Home policies cover EVERTHING!

  • WRONG!   Well to be fair the industry may have done this one to itself by naming the most common home policy the “comprehensive / all risk” policy.  The truth is even a comprehensive / all risk policy has exclusions. In fact, that’s kind of how it works. Rather than list all the things under the sun that the policy does cover, a comprehensive / all risk policy lists the items that are not covered by the policy.

A landlords policy covers his tenant

  • WRONG! One of the basic principles of insurance is that you can’t insure what you don’t own. The landlord can’t insure your possessions and you can’t insure their property either.   If you’re renting you need a tenants policy. These provide you with coverage for your personal property and personal liability. The good news is these policies are really affordable. Starting at around $15 per month depending on your needs.

A condo owners policy isn’t required if the condo corporation has insurance

  • WRONG! This is perhaps one of the most common assumptions made by condo owners. The reality is that the condo corporation is only required to buy insurance on the condo building / structure, common areas and liability coverage.   It’s up to you, the unit owner, to insure your personal contents, your personal liability, and your improvements and betterments that were made to your unit by either you or a prior owner.

Vehicles stored in your garage are covered by your home policy

  • WRONG! Remember how we talked about list of exclusions on a home policy? Yep, you guessed it, vehicles are on that list. Cars, Motorcycles, ATV’s, Snomobiles,  are excluded because they are better insured elsewhere….. on an automobile policy.

Red cars cost more to insure

  • WRONG! 46% of people think this is true (52% women & 48% men)
  • The color of your car has no direct impact on insurance rates. However there may be an indirect link.   According to a recent study red colored cars came in second for most tickets issued.   What color got first? White.

New cars always cost more to insure

  • WRONG! New cars are loaded with features that greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring. Stability control, traction control, crash avoidance braking systems, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, driver attention detection and anti lock brakes to name a few.   If an accident does occur these vehicles are also equipped with additional features that reduce the severity of injuries from the accident, curtain airbags, thorax airbags with head protection, knee airbags, seatbelt pretensioner…. The list goes on.   Long story short, newer cars are safer and as a result insurers will often give better premiums for these vehicles.

Small cars cost less to insure

  • WRONG! 40% of people think this is true (42% women, 58% men)
  • Rates are based on insurance company’s loss history for that type of vehicle. Smaller cars are typically purchased by younger, inexperienced drivers, who submit more claims. Smaller vehicles also have a higher frequency of injury claims due to their lighter weight and smaller size.

Insurance will pay for the maintenance of my car

  • WRONG! Insurance is for sudden and accidental events only. Maintenance and service costs can certainly be unexpected and expensive but they aren’t what the policy was designed for.

I won’t be held responsible if my friend wrecks my car

  • WRONG! 25% of people think this is true (48% women & 50% men)
  • The truth is, as the vehicle owner, you’re responsible.   If they cause damage, the claim goes on your auto insurance policy and can affect your rates. If the claim is bad enough you could be named in a lawsuit.   Moral of the story is think carefully before tossing your keys to just anyone.

The insurance company keeps changing the rules on what’s covered and what isn’t covered.

  • WRONG! The car insurance industry is highly regulated by provincial governments who set minimum coverage levels. If insurance companies want to make coverage or premium changes they have to get approval from the government.

That’s just a sample of some of the questions we’ve been asked over the years.  If you have a question about your coverage let us know.

Sources

 http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/10/27/here-are-the-top-10-myths-in-insurance?t=personal-lines&slreturn=1516816279&page=3

http://www.ibc.ca/ns/insurance-101/insurance-basics/insurance-myths

http://blog.cjponyparts.com/2014/07/most-and-least-ticketed-types-makes-and-colors-cars/

Insurance

Deductibles…

Why

What is a deductible?

Deductibles are one of the most misunderstood parts of a car insurance policy. Basically the deductible is the portion you agree to absorb financially in the event of an accident. For example if your deductible is $500 and the repairs to your car cost $8,500, you will be responsible for paying the first $500 and the insurance company will pay the remaining $8,000 to repair your  vehicle.

So how do I choose a deductible amount?

There are many deductible options available. Which one is right for you will depend on your own unique situation.  Typically the higher the deductible the lower your insurance premiums will be.  Here are a few examples of when a higher deductible may benefit you:

  • If you own a high value vehicle a higher deductible will help to keep premiums low.
  • If you recently added a newly licensed driver to your policy.
  • If you have traffic convictions. In some cases your policy may be surcharged depending on the number and type of traffic convictions.   A higher deductible can help to offset some of the surcharge.
  • If you have prior at fault claims. Your driving record may have been impacted by recent at fault losses on your policy. Moving up to a higher deductible can help offset some of the premium increase you may have experienced.

To help determine what deductible is right for you talk to one of our agents. We can walk you through the pros and cons of each deductible option and provide you with cost estimates on each to help you make the right choice for you and your family.

Why do I have to pay my deductible if the claim wasn’t my fault?

The important thing to remember here is that a deductible is always paid. Usually the deductible will be paid by the party responsible for causing the accident.  (If you caused the accident you will pay your deductible.  If the other driver caused the accident, their insurance will pay your deductible).  However, there are instances where you may be told you have to pay your deductible, even though the claim wasn’t your fault:

  • If the responsible driver fled the scene and we don’t know who to go after.
  • If the responsible driver has no insurance.
  • If the claim is a complex multi vehicle accident. Determining who is responsible for what can be a time consuming process. In these cases it may take the insurance claims adjusters months to properly determine fault.
  • If the drivers involved offer different accounts of events leading up to the accident.

Generally speaking the deductible will be reimbursed to you at a later date once fault has been finalized by the claims adjusters.

One of the best things you can do to help protect yourself from having to pay your own deductible in a claim that wasn’t your fault is to sell your car and take the bus to install a dash camera in your vehicle.  Dash cameras don’t lie.  They can provide valuable information about the accident and help prove which driver’s statement is correct.  They are inexpensive, easy to install, and can prove extremely valuable to both the insurance company and police in the event of a claim.

Remember, if you do ever suffer a claim, you have us on your side. We work for you, not the insurance company.  You can lean on us for advice and help in dealing with your claims process.

Insurance

Holiday Shopping

Holiday ShoppingThe holidays are finally here and some of you, like myself, may still be searching for the right gifts for the loved ones on your list. Here are a few ideas for the tech lovers in your life that also might help in the event they ever have to make an insurance claim.

Dash cam – Insurers in Canada don’t yet offer a dash camera discount. According a recent survey by Kanetix.ca 10% of Canadian drivers already drive with a vehicle equipped with a dash cam.  More than 25% said that while they don’t currently have a dash cam in their car, they think it’s a good idea.  The best part is they aren’t even all that expensive.

No matter how much you choose to spend on one, they’re well worth the investment. The footage they capture can make all the difference in the event of an accident where the drivers are providing different statements to the police and insurance adjusters.    With the camera footage it becomes a lot easier to identify and prove exactly what really happened.

Connected car – If you’re giving your child their first car for Christmas chances are you did your homework and tried to find them a safe, reliable and affordable automobile.  When it comes to pre-owned cars though you never really know what problems you may face down the road.  Some telecommunication companies, Telus for example, are now offering connected car plans that can be added to your phone plan.  It’s a small device that plugs into the diagnostic port on the vehicle and can alert to potential issues with the cars systems.  It can push alerts to your smartphone alerting to any diagnostic trouble codes, if your battery is low, or if you left your lights on.  Pricing starts at around $15 a month

Smart Thermostat – These are becoming more and more popular.  Not only are they more energy efficient but they can also provide a huge advantage over traditional thermostats from an insurance perspective.  These thermostats can send a push notification to any device running the companion application (smartphone or tablet) alerting you if the temperature dips below a pre determined value.  This is extremely valuable feature during our harsh Canadian winters as theres nothing worse than coming home from a hard day at work to find a pipe froze and burst in your home.

Smart plugs and lights – Remember those days of setting up light timers before going on vacation.  What about coming home alone late at night to a dark house?  Wouldn’t it be great if your lights turned on automatically everyday without having to think about it?  Or if they turned on when you pulled your car into the driveway?  Well the good news is this is all doable.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t want it to be.  Smart plugs are super affordable now.  You can pick these up for a about $40.  They can run on a preset scheduled &/or use your phones location to determine when to turn on an off.   If you’re really adventurous a lot of them can be paired with IFTTT service so you can have a light turn on and off according to the weather, or sunset / sunrise.   Whatever set up you decide is right for you it provides added security for you and your family.  It might just be enough to deter a burglar if they think someone is home.

Wifi Water sensor – Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the new technology that’s offered to homeowners.  One example of this is a wifi water sensor.  For less than $70 you can set up a smart wifi water sensor in your home.  Typically you would want to set this up in your utility room near your hot water tank and floor drain.  If it comes in contact with any water it sounds an audible alarm in the home and sends a push notification to any smart devices running the companion application (smartphone or tablet for example).  Being notified early on gives you a better chance of minimizing the damage caused.   If cost is no object you can also get systems that not only sound an alarm and push a notification but also physically shut the main water line off as well in the event it detects a leak.

Wifi camera system – Much like vehicle dash cams, insurers don’t yet offer discounts for wifi camera systems.  However that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable.  These systems can send push notifications to any smart device running the companion application (smartphone or tablet) alerting you to motion within the home or surrounding property.  They are also great for pet owners allowing them to check in on their fur babies and some systems even allow for two way communication allowing you to talk to your pets. Prices start at about $75 and go up depending on how many cameras you want and what features you’re looking for.

There is a lot of really great tech products out there these days and they are all pretty affordable. They can make life easier and provide peace of mind.  And in some cases provide valuable data to the insurance company in the event of a loss.

Happy shopping…..

 

Sources:  Katetix.ca,   Huffington Post,   Telus

Insurance

Vehicle Theft

Car Theft

We are only a few weeks away from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) releasing their figures for the top ten most stolen vehicles of 2017. We promise to share that info with you just as soon as it’s available. The 2017 list is available here.

Unfortunately statistics in Canada show a vehicle is stolen every 7 minutes. That’s nearly 75,000 vehicles stolen every year!   Those costs add up pretty quickly.  According to IBC it adds up to nearly $1 billion each year ($542 million for insurers to fix or replace the vehicle, $250 million in police, healthcare and court system costs, and millions more in correctional services).

75,000 is a lot of stolen cars. So where do they all go? What happens to them?  Typically these vehicles are stolen for one of these reasons:

  • To sell abroad. Once stolen these vehicles may be loaded into shipping containers and sent abroad where they are sold for many times their original market value. Inspectors at the port of Montreal have seized roughly $8 million worth of stolen vehicles from the port each year since 2009.
  • To sell to unsuspecting consumers. Vehicles may be given a false VIN and sold to unsuspecting shoppers. Many buyers are unaware that thieves can replace a VIN from a stolen vehicle with one that belongs to a legally registered vehicle. This is a process called “VIN cloning” or “retagging”. This process is used by thieves in an attempt to hide the vehicles true history.
  • To sell the vehicle in parts. Sometimes a vehicle is worth more in pieces than it is as a whole. Thieves take the vehicle to a “chop shop” and disassemble the vehicle and sell the parts for profit. The engine, transmission and frame are often scrapped as they are all marked with the vehicles VIN. The remaining parts typically do not have the VIN and are sold to unsuspecting or dishonest salvage yards or mechanics.
  • To commit another crime. These vehicles are typically recovered within 48 hours of their theft as they have been abandoned after the thieves are done with them. These vehicles usually are damaged and may not be repairable.

Generally car thefts are lower among newer model vehicles. Advancements in vehicle security and ignition systems have helped to reduce the number of thefts.  In addition to that many automakers are now including, or offering the option, to have the VIN etched into the body panels and glass before the vehicle is delivered to the consumer.

When shopping for a used vehicle, make sure you do your research on the vehicle before signing the bill of sale and handing over your hard earned cash. Buying your vehicle from a trustworthy dealership is a good start.  Services like a Carfax report can indicate a potential VIN clone and confirm vehicle mileage.

There are also additional steps you can take to protect the vehicle you already own from theft:

  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.
  • Never leave your keys in or on the vehicle when it’s parked. If you have one of those little magnetic spare key holders get rid of it.
  • Never leave your car running and unattended. I know that one’s hard to do in our cold climate, but honestly your car will warm up quicker if you just get in and go. Expert mechanics also say that warming up the car in the cold before you drive actually does more harm to the engine longevity than just driving right away.
  • Don’t leave valuables inside your vehicle .
  • Avoid high crime areas. Know where you are going and plan your route accordingly.
  • Install an anti theft system.
  • Park your vehicle in well lit areas. Thieves prefer to work in the dark.
  • Make sure you have theft coverage on your automobile insurance policy.

Ultimately if a thief really wants a vehicle they will find a way. Vehicles are just metal and they are in no way worth more than your life.  Don’t ever put yourself in harm’s way for your vehicle.  Cars can be replaced, you can’t.

Sources : Insurance Bureau of Canada, Global News, Carfax, Popular Mechanics, Geico

Insurance

Fall Safety Tips

yh-leaf

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and the leaves are beginning to drop from the trees. Fall is officially here.  With proper safety precautions in mind your family can enjoy the crisp autumn weather while avoiding some of the dangers that come with the season.

When the weather turns cold most people start to spend more time indoors using fireplaces, furnaces and heaters to keep warm. There is nothing quite a cozy as a fire but it does present some safety hazards.  Be sure to keep these tips in mind to keep your family warm and safe.

  • Service Your Furnace – Before the cold autumn and winter weather sets in, be sure to call your local heating company to have your furnace serviced and inspected.
  • Use Fireplaces Safely – Keep that fire where it belongs by using a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out.  Never leave a burning fire unattended, and make sure its completely extinguished before going to bed.
  • Use Space Heaters Carefully – Space heaters are a great way to warm up a chilly room, but make sure you read the instructions on the heater before you use it. Make sure you maintain proper clearances around the unit to prevent fires.
  • Exercise Candle Caution – Candles are a great way to give a room a cozy warm feel, but they also cause fires. According to the National Candle Association there are almost 10,000 home fires each year in the US that started from improper candle use.  Never leave a candle unattended and always keep them away from pets and children.

There is nothing more beautiful than a drive out to Alberta’s Rocky Mountains in the fall, but this season brings with it some unique hazards for drivers. Being aware of potential dangers can keep you and your family safe.

  • Poor Visibility – Falling leaves, while beautiful, can obscure your vision. Shorter days are part of the season, meaning the sun rises later, sets earlier, and doesn’t get as high in the sky.   Make sure you have a good pair of sunglasses in your vehicle to wear when the sign is bright.
  • Children – The shorter days make it more difficult to see children playing, walking to school, and riding bicycles. Be aware of your limitations in visibility and slow down if you can’t see well.
  • Slow Down on Wet Roads – Rain, and wet snow is common during fall in Alberta. Make sure you keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.  Wet roads make it more difficult to stop quickly.  When wet leaves are on the road they make the road even more slippery and it can be hard to get good traction.